What you need to know:
- Mr Gachagua said the government is committed to enhancing gender equality, hence its creation of the Ministry of Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action.
- He expressed confidence that the ministry, led by Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa, will boost gender equality efforts across all sectors.
At least 50 per cent of the Hustler Fund will be reserved for women, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has announced.
Mr Gachagua said the percentage could go up to 70 per cent because women are more creditworthy than men.
“The women of Kenya are very hardworking, enterprising and of high integrity. We are very happy that they will take most of these funds because they will repay. They know the money is not for free and will therefore return it,” he said.
Mr Gachagua made the remarks while addressing United Nations representatives in Kenya who paid him a courtesy call in his office. The Kenya Kwanza administration is determined to uplift the lives of Kenyans as it was elected on a platform of economic transformation, he said.
“This administration is very happy that we now have a fund for the people at the bottom of the pyramid. This will help to uplift millions of struggling Kenyans to get a chance to realise their dreams by having access to affordable credit to start and grow their businesses.”
The proposed Sh50 billion fund is aimed at enabling small and medium enterprises and individuals planning to start up businesses to access affordable credit. Beneficiaries will be expected to initiate and/or sustain their businesses, in line with Kenya Kwanza administration’s bottom-up economic model.
The Cabinet last week approved the legal and institutional framework to anchor the establishment and implementation of the fund. It also capped the interest rate at eight per cent per annum, computed on a pro-rata basis.
Mr Gachagua requested the UN representatives to help the government strengthen the fund. “We will be seeking your help in strengthening the Hustler Fund. We want to make sure that through the bottom-up economic model, no one is left behind.”
The fund is part of President William Ruto’s campaign pledge. Kenyans will be eligible to borrow as low as Sh500 and a maximum of Sh50,000 as determined by the borrower's credit score.
Set for launch
Last month, President Ruto said plans were underway to operationalise the fund by December 1, 2022. Co-operatives and SMEs Development Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said last week said Kenyans will require no registration to access it.
Mr Chelugui dismissed claims that loan defaulters would be slapped with hefty fines. The CS said the penalty of a fine and imprisonment only targets officials hell-bent on defrauding the fund.
"There is no such thing. The penalties in the regulations target fund officials who may embezzle or misappropriate the funds," he told journalists during a press conference in Nairobi.
There have been concerns among Kenyans over the harsh conditions set by the state regarding the funding, with reports circulating in social media claiming that defaulters would be fined up to Sh10 million or imprisoned for five years, or both.
Mr Gachagua said the government is committed to enhancing gender equality, hence its creation of the Ministry of Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action. He expressed confidence that the ministry, led by Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa, will boost gender equality efforts across all sectors.